The inside insight on what Connor Goldson brings to Rangers team

James Tavernier has praised Connor Goldson’s role in Rangers’ run to the top of the SPFL Premiership and welcomed the return to form of his defensive partner this season.

Connor Goldson celebrates with James Tavernier after Rangers' first goal against Celtic (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Goldson earned the headlines in Saturday’s Old Firm win with two goals, but was point of focus for contrasting reasons towards the end of last season with a sticky spell of form culminating in a lapse during Rangers’ home defeat to Hamilton in March and the winner for David Moyo. Back then the English defender was not short of detractors but boss Steven Gerrard stuck resolutely by the 27-year-old.

That confidence has been repaid this season, and then some, with handsome wins, defensive security and then at the weekend, two goals to see off Celtic. The faith shown in his team-mate mirrors his own, the Ibrox captain says.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

Sign up to our Football newsletter

“I have always had great belief in Connor and I love having him beside me and playing next to him,” Tavernier said. “He gives us freedom. I feel I have got extra security when I go forward because I know he is going to cover me in those positions. He does get criticism but that is part of the package. He is the one that has to step on the field and he has been terrific for us since he has come here. This season he has been outstanding and long may that continue.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 17: Connor Goldson of Rangers celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on October 17, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“I am delighted for him and to get two goals at Parkhead, as a centre-back, it is a great day for him. He should be proud of himself because he was outstanding. Every man was outstanding. I am delighted for him, he is a big asset for us attacking and defensively so I am really proud of him.

“I am very happy. We came here with a gameplan and I thought we executed it really well. We didn’t get on the ball like we should have in the second half but I thought we controlled it and limited their chances and we were disciplined in our defensive approach.

"It is the start of the season, it is a long season, and while we will enjoy it, we have got a big game on Thursday and we have to get our heads down.”

Captain fantastic

Steven Gerrard celebrates with James Tavernier after the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park on October 17, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Tavernier has also played his part in Rangers’ start to the season, at both ends of the field – scoring eight goals and helping Gerrard’s side to nine clean sheets in 11 league games.

After a quarter of the season, the win over Celtic puts Rangers four points clear at the top having played one game more than Neil Lennon’s side, but no-one is getting carried away the captain warned, despite the comfort and control displayed in the manner of the victory.

“It is the start of the season,” Tavernier insisted. “This game doesn’t decide when it comes into May. It was a good performance but it is the start of where we need to be. We just need to keep our heads down, work hard and focus on the next game that comes up. I am delighted, we can enjoy it and let the fans enjoy it and we will look forward to Thursday now.

“It is an early game. We have come here, stuck to what we needed to do and got the three points. Now we have to keep on moving forward, we have to concentrate on ourselves come next weekend and that is what we will do.

“We had Sunday off for everyone to enjoy it with their families and soak it all in. As soon as Monday morning comes, we will focus on Thursday and that is our aim. We need to be consistent this year, we can’t afford to have any speedbumps in the way. We are learning our lessons from previous seasons."

No let up for Gers

Thursday sees Rangers head to Belgium on Europa League duty in the first of the group stage matches against Standard Liege and begins a relentless run of matches up to, and beyond, the international break next month and well into December.

The demanding cycle of matches, on Sunday afternoons and Thursday nights, will ask much of Steven Gerrard’s squad at a key stage of the season. However Rangers have stood up to the test in Europe so far this season, earning commendable wins over Willem II in the Netherlands and at home to Galatasaray to qualify for the group stage with Benfica, Lech Poznan and Thursday night’s opposition from the Jupiler League.

Along the way only four goals have been conceded, testament to the defence perhaps, but also the preparations put in by the backroom team at Rangers, Tavernier says.

“We had a good pre-season and had good time to work on ourselves, which we normally wouldn’t have. Credit to the management team for the time and effort they put in defensively. We know from playing strong sides in the Europa how good we have been defensively but we want to take that into domestic football.

"We are showing great signs now but we still have loads of work to do to keep improving ourselves. That is the aim, you always want to improve as a team and a player and we look forward to doing that.

“That was the aim of first coming here. It is a club with a rich history of trophies and winning and medals and that is what I want to do. Every player in the team wants to be a winner and celebrate at the end of the season. That is what we are aiming to do.

“We want to do the club proud and the fans proud. We did that [on Saturday]. It is the start of something and now we have to knuckle down, work hard and take it game by time.”